Lee told Harrison that Google was applying a double standard in its treatment of the Federalist web site, by invoking free-speech legal protections that shield it from liability for users’ offensive comments. “This is how a company acts when it senses, perhaps correctly, that it doesn’t have competition,” Lee said.
But mostly the senators homed in on Google’s position in advertising as they questioned Harrison. In the “ad tech” marketplace bringing together Google and a huge universe of advertisers and publishers, the company controls access to the advertisers that put ads on its dominant search platform. Google also runs the auction process for advertisers to get ads onto a publisher’s site. In addition, Google owns Android, which is the world’s largest mobile operating system, email systems, video service YouTube and mapping services, which provide it with users’ data that it can deploy in the advertising process.
“This looks like monopoly upon monopoly,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who is a leading critic of Big Tech.
Klobuchar cited research showing that Google may be taking between 30% and 70% of every ad dollar spent by advertisers using its services — money that critics say should go to publishers that produce content and run the ads, such as newspapers.
Google, whose parent is Alphabet Inc., controls about 90% of web searches. Google has long argued that although its businesses are large, they are useful and beneficial to consumers.